- EPA has issued a new report that adds another layer of uncertainty to the controversy over glyphosate, a common weed killer that has been found in small amounts in some products.
- The agency concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, unlike many other major national and international organizations that ruled the opposite.
- The report will be under review by outside scientists in October.
Before farmers and manufacturers rejoice in the EPA's news about a key chemical in the genetically-modified food movement, they should remember that the report still needs third-party approval. Only then might the EPA's conclusions have an impact on legislation regarding the use of glyphosate in crops that supply products sold in the U.S. and abroad.
It's unclear why the EPA has taken such a drastically different stance from WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer, which made the carcinogen link last year. But the EPA isn't the only organization to have made these claims, as the European Food Safety Agency and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization came to the same conclusion since the IARC's announcement.
The question now is how this glyphosate report could impact food and beverage manufacturers, particularly those based or selling products in the U.S. and EU. The vast majority of corn and soy-based products, as well as other crops, are genetically-modified to tolerate glyphosate. A ban on glyphosate, as is a possibility in California under Prop 65, could lead to significant changes to the domestic and international food systems.
The FDA is also beginning to test products for the presence of glyphosate. Depending on the claims manufacturers make, particularly "natural," more close monitoring of glyphosate in the food supply could lead to increased litigation against companies that use GMO ingredients in their products. General Mills knows this all too well after having recently faced a new lawsuit that argued the company misled the public by claiming its Nature Valley granola bars were "natural," though the product contains glyphosate.